Turkmenistan: Students Slapped with Five-Year Travel Ban
Students prevented from studying at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and later prohibited from traveling to the American University of Bulgaria, reportedly have been placed on a five-year travel blacklist, an opposition news site is reporting.
According to Chrono-tm.org, three male students attempted to leave Turkmenistan through the Farap border crossing on the Turkmen-Uzbek border. In preventing the trio from leaving Turkmenistan, border guards reportedly explained; "Once you've been included on this list, you can't go anywhere for a minimum of 5-7 years. That's the rule." [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Resentment at the apparently arbitrary ban on study at AUCA is growing among the students who aspire to study abroad, the report adds. "Obviously, I won't have a higher education now, but I've already learned some lessons. Until there is real change in the political system, there will be a growing number of wrongfully accused people like me [staying at home]," Chrono-tm.org quoted a student as saying on November 12.
The study-abroad plans of as many as 1,500 Turkmen scholars were interrupted by changes instituted by the Turkmen government in July. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Ultimately, many study-abroad students were able to begin their studies outside of Turkmenistan. But officials refused to permit the bulk of those wishing to study at AUCA to depart. Ashgabat has provided no public explanation for its decision. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].